Friday, 17 June 2011

7 Quick Takes (77)

1. The folks and I went to Ontario to see my brother graduate. If you are a reader in Ontario and you are wondering why I didn't visit, it's because my schedule was very full. We visited family and friends of the family. We ran some errands. We poked around Stratford, the city where I went to high school.

2. For my birthday, my brother gave me a painting, among other things. You can see it here. It is entitled Calliphoridae Megacephala (I assume). I think you'd have to be in our family or a close friend to fully understand why this is a real present.

3. We also learned about Justin Bieber. You see, The Biebs hails from Stratford, Ontario, my maternal homeland. We even went to the same high school, albiet not at the same time. It was a little odd to see that Stratford has to a small extent been made over with a Bieber geography in my absense: Rheo Thompson Candies (a well-known chocolatier in the Stratford tourist industry) now has a Justin Bieber box, Bieber collector's cards and other paraphenalia are available in most retail locations, and places like his favourite restaurant (Madeliene's) which were previously understood in terms of family and friend's connections to it are now labeled as part of the Bieber landscape. Stratford was already a tourist town due to its theatre and arts scene--and its shops and restaurants--but now it has been remade again. I think I prefered Shakespeare-themed tourism to teen idol-themed tourism.

My brother and I discussed the young man in question and determined that he is not at fault for the silliness that surrounds him (though asking the mayor of Stratford to do something about the fans mobbing him was a bit out of touch with reality). The real issue lies with the obsessed fans--hyperventilating because a mediocre singer is in the same city as you? really?--and with the media outlets that encourage this behaviour, typifying it as a valid developmental stage in young women as opposed to teaching girls to make good choices in who they bestow their affections on and how they do it.

4. On Monday I bid Fort McMurray farewell and flew to Vancouver. That makes three provinces in a handful of days and three flights in just over a week. I've maxed my annual allowable environmental damage right there, I think. The weather, scent, and vegetation that greeted me was wonderful.

5. Wednesday evening some friends and I went to see The Merchant of Venice at Bard on the Beach. Other friends would have gone were it not for Game 7 (see next entry). It was an interesting production. Off the top, I'll say that the costumes, acting, and music were as good as one could want. Shylock was especially wonderful. But as with any production of Merchant, there are some particular problems that are hard to overcome. Portia is racist. In order to mitigate this, I think, they really played the suitors from Carthage and Aragon as ridiculous figures, but with the culturally and racially sensitive dialogue, this verged on being racist in and of itself. Further, Shylock's forced conversion is horrifying, but not as horrifying as the audience's laughter at it. One of the more interesting choices, I think, is to make the homosocial relationship between Antonio and Bossanio an unreciprocated romantic relationship: Antonio clearly loved Bossanio as something other than a son, and his melancholy was "explained" by Bossanio leaving him. However, I like a tinge of sorrow in fictions, so this lingering plot, coupled with other moments of sadness and discomfort in the midst of the comedy (including a really uncomfortable Jessica), gave the play a depth and self-consciousness that I think was necessary. As one of my friends said, you can't really play it as a straight comedy any more.

6. There were riots in Vancouver that night. If you've been following Canadian news or coverage of the Stanley Cup, you may know what I'm talking about. Post-game rioters turned and torched sixteen police vehicles and looted numerous businesses in the Vancouver district. Also in attendance were riot police.

While waiting outside during the intermission, I suddenly noticed and called attention to a plume of smoke rising from the downtown district across the water. I hadn't paid mind to it at first because I was so used to smoke in Fort McMurray. A quick check on assorted Internet-connected gadgetry and my friends had the story. Since we knew people who had been at the game, we were a bit worried. Fortunately, all such friends were safe.

I've been distressed by the coverage of this event. The city officials have been blaming anarchists, which is ridiculous. While the blatant disregard for law shown by the rioters has a surface resemblance to anarchy, it is no more than surface. On Facebook I saw people writing that they were down there and there was no riot, only riot police. This is also ridiculous, considering ample first-person civilian reports of rioting. Beyond which, I don't think the riot police set their own cars on fire. Others are trying to deflect criticism from hockey itself, but of course there are problems with that, too: riots have occured in Vancouver before following big hockey games, but not following much else. What's most concerning, though, is the increase in sexual predation and harassment following hockey games. There are two articles that I found especially helpful. This one explains what happened and what has been said about it; this one looks closer at hockey itself and what gender has to do with it.

7. On Thursday I bought a new camera. I was quite pleased with it in the store, if leery of the touch screen, but now I'm not so sure. I'm not comfortable with its supermacro. I'll play with it a bit, continue trying this supermacro, and if it's not as good as my previous camera's, I'll go exchange it. I have two weeks to exchange, so long as I don't damage it. I'm sure I could live with this camera, but I'd rather have one I'm comfortable with considering that I expect it to last me a few years. It does have some nice features, mind you, including underwater photography and scrolling panoramics.

That is all! Please visit Conversion Diary, host of this blog carnival.

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